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Ahira’s Will

My ancestor Seth Hall’s grandchildren Lucy Hall (daughter of Gershom) and Ahira Hall (son of Edward) were first cousins. They wed in Massachusetts in 1808. As this was long before the U.S. recorded every name on the census, I could not use that resource to find the names of their children.

Luckily, Ahira left a will that was filed for probate in Providence, Rhode Island in 1862. It named his wife Lucy and their children, Orlanda, Roscoe, Royal, and Susan. It also mentioned children Clarissa and Orlanda of his deceased daughter Eliza Bailies. They all shared a handsome estate that included two houses and shares in two schooners.

There was a catch, though. At the end of the will, Ahira included this provision:

I further direct that my Executors hereinafter named shall not pay any money or make any advances to either of my children or grand children unless they are satisfied that such child or children or grand children is the actual owner of a copy of the Holy Bible of the value of not less than Four Dollars.

Lucy and Ahira both came from old Puritan stock on Cape Cod. They accumulated wealth, but it went to their heirs with strings attached.

Ahira sought to control his family from beyond the grave when he stipulated that they all must possess Bibles. Who did he fear was not reading the Good Word? I wonder whether any of the descendants needed to rush out to purchase a Bible only to sell it again after the distribution of the estate.

Most wills do not include such restrictive provisions. The ones that do make for interesting reading.

Wills provide an excellent genealogical resource for learning about the people who lived before 1850. Ahira Hall left an intriguing one.




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